|Index||3 reviews in total|
Unbelievable , but Muratova hasn't kept us waiting too long for another
masterpiece . It's particularly notable , considering highly creative
approach by which Muratova got us plunging into the weird atmosphere of
Chechov . As usual it makes us feel a lot of contradictory moods...some
of " emotional vacuum cups " .
I won't reveal anything new saying that Muratova's movies are extremely irritating . I suppose in " Chechov's Motives " she's done her best in this aspect.
There are always certain scenes or motives in her films which are particularly hard to perceive , let alone liking them at first sight . Sometimes it's necessary to come back to them several times to appreciate their condition or even relevance . Eventually each particle of story finds its irreplaceable location,but it takes time before we realize that.
While there are just several episodes in her other works which might be classified as " hard-to-swallow " , in " Chechov's Motives " we are exposed to 50-minute-patience-test in the sequence which can be called " An Educational Orthodox Wedding Guide For Enterings Church Establishments " . Undoubtedly this piece can be related in the same proportion as to Chechov as to Muratova . I guess if Chechov himself had been alive he would've appreciated such a syndicate.
Only here you will find a clergyman having served God for 40 years without believing in his existence ( if church let itself doubt , what can we say about its parishioners? ). Add to it self-made Nouveau Riches and Bohemians who arrived at " Sacred Procedure " which will turn into neverending ordeal as for participants as for viewers .
Twenty years later Muratova comes back to cinematic poetry . Almost amateur black and white image , genius editing of the final scene . It's just impossible not to point out the opera version of musical grotesque composed by V.Selivestrov , transfering us back in 1979 in another piece of art " Getting To Know A Big Wide World " . Definitely , Muratova and Sakurov are the only genuine directors left on the Post-Soviet stage.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I stumbled on this at my local video store one day; I'd seen Muratova's
"Asthenic Syndrome" about a decade ago which was totally mind-blowing
and once or twice since then made small inquiries into the availability
of it or other films - and low and behold this adaptation/compression
of a couple of lesser-known Chekhov works shows up.
Like the earlier film, this has two distinct sections which refract on and relate to each other only obliquely; unlike that film, it doesn't strike me as a masterpiece, at least not on first glance. The overstuffed, almost baroque imagination at play in "Asthenic" is muted here, which is too bad because it really makes the overall irritating nature of the characters and the "storyline" such as it is stand out in high relief. Which is perhaps Muratova's point: she presents us with two situations, first a young impoverished man trying to escape his awful family and return to school (in the first and last quarters of the film) and next a wealthy, bourgeoisie Orthodox wedding taking place at a church out in the country near where the young man lives, the only link being that the student gets a lift from someone who promises to take him into town or to the train station if he'll stop off at the wedding.
Essentially in both milieus we are presented with loud and obnoxious people - screaming at each other in the case of the family, whispering behind and to each other without regard for the "sacred" proceedings in the case of the wedding. In both cases there is a brief moment of quiet near the end of the scene, though only in the case of the family scene does it seem like any positive resolution can result. Muratova's world view seems profoundly cynical, the film is railing against our modern world - while at the same time intimating that the church and old family traditions have lost their purpose - but she offers little in the way of hope. Not that this is necessarily a criticism - but it's a very unpleasant and difficult film to watch in many ways.
Filmed in gorgeous high-contrast black and white, with some unquestionable nods to the grotesqueries of Fellini and perhaps Bunuel, this is definitely not a film I'd recommend to most, but it is like nothing else except the other Muratova I've seen, and I found it...interesting, at the least. Watched on Ruscico DVD which also has a nearly 1-hour documentary on the director.
Okay, on one hand I totally agree with the first review of this movie:
at face value, this movie is terrible beyond the point of comprehension
and even in fact review. The first couple scenes have nothing to do
with what goes on for the rest of the movie; you wonder why the
beginning part was even written into screenplay! And the dialogue is
repetitive, meaningless, and absolutely annoying because the voices are
abnormal (not sure if russians actually talk this way). For all these
reasons and many (understatement) more, I agree with the first review.
On the other hand, as the title may hint, one should hardly be
surprised that the content of this movie is excruciatingly boring. Have
you ever read a Chekhovian play? I was waiting for a gunshot in this
movie to trigger my attention after an hour and a half of a plot that
has many loose ends, none of which are tied together, with a main
thread that puts someone to sleep rather than keep them interested. The
reasons I walked away enjoying this movie were because:
a)i felt like i am now able to withstand any movie ever created, no matter how bad it is, because my patience was tested to the maximum breaking point with this title.
b)many movies today are one dimensional and rely on a redeeming aspect to save the entire movie (like banking on owen Wilson's hit-or-miss funny-man style in dupree, so many examples); this movie has no dimension, which I believe is its redeeming aspect. Shot in black in white, with no plot, character development is absent, with no unifying elements to prevent viewers from getting confused (one is confused with each scene with chekovian motifs); the only expectation is that it did well at the Russian Oscars. This movie is banking on nothing else to grab your attention and have you watch it. For this reason, at least it is honest.
c)once you make it through 45 minutes of this film, everything becomes hilarious because it is sheer absurdity. who picked this film up and how did it get made is my question. Really though, if you make it far enough into the movie, you start laughing at everything because you realize you probably could have written a better movie script.
The reason I give this a 5 was because at least I can talk about a movie that realistically few will view completely. Having watched the whole thing, I can say "well if you watched it all you would get it". Then again, I have little experience living in Russia, so maybe this sort of stuff happens all the time and it has finally made it into movie format.
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